My New Favorite New Orleans Book: Lost Restaurants of New Orleans
I lived and worked in New Orleans for over fourteen years, most of which was spent dining on the South Shore in Orleans, Jefferson parishes, and on the North Shore in St. Tammany Parish. From the lofty white linen table cloths of fine French Quarter restaurants, to the food tents of JazzFest, I ate, savored, and enjoyed my gastronomic sojourn there.
My mother, Peggy Meredith Brady, had left home after college and lived in the French Quarter, working in business, and studying painting with Leonard Flettrich. She shared an apartment with a friend in the Quarter, in a time when it was more of a residential and mixed business little town, before t-shirt shops and sleazy bars changed its mojo. Her memories of great New Orleans food were repeated to me over and over while I was growing up, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with such a magical and mysterious place.
Some of my earliest memories of New Orleans are about eating. One especially comes to mind about oysters. Mom’s not here to ask, but we might have been sitting at the oyster bar at The Pearl or Acme Oyster House. Maybe. I was barely six and watched my mother and twelve-year-old sister downing raw oysters faster than the oyster shucker could shuck. I was having none of it, especially when his concentration lagged, and he nearly sliced a thumb off.
When life took me from LSU in Baton Rouge to New Orleans in 1981, following a fiance’ and his career, my love affair with New Orleans cuisine took a deeper and more profound turn. A chance contract employment with Chevron USA meant working in the Central Business District, and dining in some of the top restaurants of NOLA.
Reading Lost Restaurants of New Orleans is an emotional business for me. Some of these beauties were part of my history, and losing them meant losing a connection. My mother passed away over ten years ago, but I wish it were possible to share this beautiful book with her. Hear new stories about her wild days as a young party girl in a more innocent era. More stories about how she loved Tujague’s, reading palms for beers when broke. More memories of dining out in these lost restaurants.
There’s a lost world remembered and treasured within the bindings of this book by Peggy Scott Laborde and Tom Fitzmorris, two of my most trusted NOLA food and culture sources. Whether you’d like a reminder of favorite restaurants lost to time or a reference guide to New Orleans cuisine through time, Lost Restaurants of New Orleans is a fabulous find. There are classic recipes shared, vintage photography of the exteriors and interiors, copies of menus, and much more. A treasure trove.